1st Youth Voters Education Forum, a success beyond measure!
The first-ever Youth Voters Education Forum organized and hosted by Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) in partnership with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) was overwhelmingly successful as WMSU was able to reach out to not only its internal community but to the general public as well to educate them more about the local candidates’ capabilities and plans on the different issues and concerns, particularly in the tertiary education in Zamboanga City.
Held last April 21, 2022 at the Dr. Juanito Bruno Gymnasium, the event was also co-organized by Zamboanga Polytechnic State University (ZPPSU) and Zamboanga State College of Marine Science and Technology (ZSCMST), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas (KBP), and the Mass Communication Department of the WMSU-College of Liberal Arts. The forum was participated to by selected faculty and students from the three (3) state universities and colleges (SUCs) and its live stream has reached 55,000 views as of this writing. It was participated to by mayoral, vice mayoral, and congressional candidates.
WMSU President Dr. Ma. Carla A. Ochotorena welcomed the participants and audience highlighting that elections are the lifeline of democracy. “It ensures that power resides within the people and stays with the people,” said Dr. Ochotorena. She also highlighted the report of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) 52% of the total registered voters with more than four million first time voters between 18-21 years old. “For an election to be successful and democratic, voters must understand the rights and responsibilities, and must be sufficiently knowledgeable and well-informed to participate in this democratic process,” said she. “It is in this light that we in the academe, through the initiative of CHED, came up with this Youth Voters Education Forum which is geared towards informing, educating and inspiring our young constituents to actively and responsibly participate in the May 2022 polls,” the lady president said.
“This forum fulfills our societal obligation as higher academic institutions in the promotion and advancement of the socio-economic and cultural growth of this country by providing unbiased, nonpartisan information about the candidates so that our young people and citizens can actively and wisely participate in the national and local elections,” Dr. Ochotorena said. She further encouraged the audience to listen well to the candidates’ platforms and to review their performances so they can arrive at an informed decision in terms of casting their ballots. In his message, CHED-IX Regional Director Dr. Rody P. Garcia congratulated the organizing committee as this was the first ever youth voters education forum conducted in the country by state universities and colleges. “This activity was approved by CHED by virtue of CHED En Banc Resolution No. 25, series of 2022,
and part of it was to encourage CHED regional offices to conduct the same forum so the youth van get the right information and orientation relative to the agenda of the local candidates for higher education. The forum was designed such that questions are focused on the issues and areas of concern in the delivery of higher education and the youth. The panel of moderators with background in higher education is composed of: Asst. Prof. Vinchail Siason, Asst. Director of the WMSU Quality Assurance Office (QAO); Atty. Irma Mari M. Rivero, regular faculty member of the WMSU College of Law; Atty. Carl Andrew M. Rubio, former college instructor and a managing partner of the Wee-Sit and Rubio Law Offices; and, Atty. Marti Gregorio, Legal Officer and Chairperson of the Research Ethics and Oversight Committee of ZPPSU.
For the mayoral position, the local candidates who took time to share with the youth their plans and programs were: Atty. Rommel Agan, Dr. Celso L. Lobregat, Atty. Cesar Jimenez, Jr., and Mr. Cesar Climaco. For the vice mayoral candidates, present were: Josephine Pareja, Benjamin Guingona IV, Elbert Atilano, Sr., and Atty. Melchor Rey Sadain. For the representatives of the city’s first legislative district, the participants were: Khymer Adan T. Olaso, Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, and Atty. Wendell Sotto. Present for the District 2 representatives were Atty. Juan Climaco Elago and Fictal Majuddin. (LMP, WMSU-PAO)